By: Kimberly Cashman
In case you’ve missed it…year-round Pell grant has once again made it into the regulations. And now that the new rules have been released, the Department of Education has given financial aid offices some flexibility. Flexibility can be a great thing when it comes to helping our students get what they need but it can also be daunting (and somewhat terrifying) when you are attempting to decipher new financial aid rules.
According to the Dear Colleague Letter GEN-17-06 that was released on June 19, 2017, institutions are allowed to decide when the cross-over period will take place and there is a distinction of what the student must do to receive the additional 50% of their scheduled Pell award. The biggest questions that have come up have centered on how the cross-over period is assigned and when is the student able to utilize their additional 50%. The answer to these questions are simple on the surface but more complicated when you get into the specifics.
To make things easy, DCL GEN-17-06 spells out that the summer semester can be situated as a header or trailer and that the decision is up to each institution.
- If summer is a header, then the funds for the summer semester are paid out of the 2017-2018 award year and begin working towards using their 150% allowed award.
- If summer is a trailer, then the funds are paid from the remaining eligibility from the 2016-2017 award year and the student cannot exceed 100% of their scheduled award.
Here is the caveat for the additional 50% Pell award…the student must be enrolled at least half-time during the semester in which they cross the 100% threshold. What this means is that no matter how the semesters stack up, once the student is crossing from 100% to 101% of usage, they must be enrolled at least half-time to receive their Pell award above the 100% of the scheduled amount.
The other part of the DCL that gave many people (myself included) a mini heart attack was the instruction that while the institution has the flexibility to assign the crossover payment period it must be assigned so that it is “most beneficial to students.” That seems like an impossible task but after Episode 37 of “Off The Cuff” aired, relief was given when it was clarified that the crossover period can be determined by the school to best fit a group of students and/or determined on a student-by-student basis. Sweet, sweet flexibility!
BILL WATCH: On July 13, 2017 a House appropriations subcommittee voted to send a 2018 funding bill to a full committee review. This bill is a part of the proposal to cut $3.3 billion from the Pell Grant Program reserve (which is lower than President Trump’s $3.9 billion reduction proposal). In addition, this bill proposes to save the FSEOG program, subsidized loans, and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program as well as calling for level funding for FSEOG and the FWS program and increased funding for TRiO and Gear Up. Despite some rebuff from each side, the bill appears to be moving forward and could be up for full committee vote as early as next week!